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Asana, or pose instruction, has been a keystone of Yoga Journal’s magazine lineup since the first issue in 1975. By the mid-2000s, the old “Asana” column evolved into a column for beginning yogis, called “Basics,” and “Master Class,” featuring intelligent sequences leading to challenging peak poses, taught and often modeled by influential master teachers. Here are six of our favorite Master Class pieces from the last decade.
Kapotasana Master Class with Roger Cole
In the August 2005 issue, longtime Yoga Journal columnist Roger Cole dissects Kapotasana (Pigeon Pose), helping students safely work toward this intense backbend with the creative use of props. Cole, PhD, is an Iyengar-certified teacher based in Del Mar, California, as well as one of YJ’s current contributing editors and 40th anniversary Good Karma Awards advisors.
Mayurasana Master Class with Peter Sterios
California-based vinyasa teacher and Manduka founder Peter Sterios gracefully walks students through steps for getting into Mayurasana (Peacock Pose) in the April 2007 issue. “Arm strength isn’t everything, says Sterios. The secret to getting into Peacock Pose lies deep in your belly center, he suggests. We’re still trying to master it!
Marichyasana I Master Class with Colleen Saidman Yee + Rodney Yee
Yoga Journal regulars and New York-based yoga icons Colleen Saidman Yee and Rodney Yee teach Marichyasana I (Pose Dedicated to the Sage Marichi I) in the November 2009 issue, building up to it with some of our favorite poses, including Bharadvajasana (Bharadvaja’s Twist) and Malasana (Garland Pose).
Akarna Dhanurasana Master Class with John Schumacher
In 1979, John Schumacher started one of the East Coast’s largest Iyengar Yoga studios in the Washington, D.C., area. Yoga Journal has been fortunate to work with Schumacher on and off for years and in the November 2010 issue he shines in Akarna Dhanurasana (Archer Pose), leading students through hip openers that allow for eventually mastering this pose. As you prepare for Archer Pose, learn to direct the arrow of awareness at yourself, Schumacher advises.
Ardha Chandra Chapasana Master Class with Baron Baptiste
Baptiste Yoga creator Baron Baptiste brings us into balance with his step-by-step instructions for warming up for and getting into Ardha Chandra Chapasana (sometimes called Sugarcane Pose), in the August 2011 issue. The key: a steady foundation.
Kasyapasana Master Class with Jason Crandell
Our last Master Class column ran in August 2014 and who better to craft it than Jason Crandall, who has appeared in the magazine and at events for over a decade. Crandall teaches Kasyapasana (Balance Dedicated to Kasyapa) in a way that nurtures patience, safe alignment, and the freedom of open hips. “The practice strengthens your body, focuses your mind, and tempers your nervous system,” writes Crandall. “But the most powerful shift occurs when you realize you can do something you didn’t think was possible. And when you exceed your own expectations, you feel a sense of empowerment that flows into every facet of your life.”